Roadmap to Recovery

Whether you’re realizing it on your own, you’ve been diagnosed by a medical professional, or you see it in a loved one, the process of recovery from an eating disorder can seem overwhelming and terrifying. Trust me, when I first began my own personal journey to recovery, I couldn’t even form the words to talk about it let alone believe it would ever go away. I didn’t understand how seeking help could possibly make the thoughts I’ve always thought in my head change. However, it’s because I opened that door that I can sit here today and tell you otherwise. Fear cannot be the reason you (or someone you love) do not seek out help. There are various options available, and that itself can be a little mind-boggling, I understand that. That’s why you’ll find a detailed (but no-fluff) outline below of all the resources available to those suffering from the symptoms of an eating disorder.

There are several factors to consider when choosing treatment for recovery for you or a loved one. Some questions you should ask yourself may be:

• Where are the treatment facilities in my area? You can actually look that up here.
• What is the severity of my disorder? Can I keep up with school/work? Has it taken over my ability to function normally in every day life?
• Which philosophy of treatment is right for my loved one or me? Which philosophies do the treatment centers in my area use?
• How much time do I/he/she have to commit to recovery? How much family involvement is required? What will they expect from my/his/her support system? Note – this should only be taken into account for non-acute disorders
• What will my/his/her insurance cover? I personally hate that we have to consider this, because mental health disorders should be addressed without the financial stress. Unfortunately, it is a factor that affects many people’s decision to deny care. Keep in mind you can try to negotiate the percentage of which your carrier will pay, and it’s best to do so prior to beginning treatment. A few treatment centers also offer financial aid. Find more on securing treatment through your insurance here.

Which level of care is right for me/him/her?

Inpatient Hospitalization: This level of care is provided to severely acute eating disorder patients, offering 24-hour care that focuses on medical stabilization of a patient. Usually, a patient is here no more than three weeks before graduating to a Residential treatment center.

Residential Treatment Center: Also a 24-hour care facility, patients live at their residential treatment center with medical professionals who monitor their health conditions. It is here where they will begin to work with their treatment team, consisting of a registered dietitian, psychologist/psychiatrist, doctor, and potentially holistic care professionals if the treatment center offers this. The focus here is on physical and psychological healing.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)/Day Treatment Center: Similar to Residential Treatment Centers, PHP’s or Day Treatment Centers allow medical professionals to monitor patients’ health while they work towards their physical and psychological healing. The difference is that patients will spend evenings and weekends at home, and 5-6 days per week for about 10 hours per day at the treatment center. This level of care provides for a smoother transition between 24-hour residential care and intensive outpatient treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers: This level of care is provided for those who are able to remain in school/work, and generally meet for a specified number of days per week. Here you will continue/begin to work with your treatment team on your psychological well being and incorporate practices you learn into everyday life.

Outpatient Treatment: This is the least-intensive level of care and provided for those who can function in their daily lives without seeking care from their treatment team for specific periods of time. You may see you nutritionist/therapist/recovery team member a few times a week or once every few weeks depending on your needs, and this level of care may look different for everyone. Gradually over time, you will begin to need your dietary team less as you move forward in your recovery.

Continuing Care: This level of care is comparable to that of a “check-up” for ongoing support in recovery. You will have periodic sessions with your therapist and/or nutritionist at whatever frequency you and your team see fit.

Support Groups/Self-Help: Support groups are a great way to stay connected to individuals going through similar situations as your own, and can create a comforting and encouraging community for recovery. Individuals (much like you) desiring a community of support may lead them, or they may be professionally led. Find a support group in your area here.

As you can see, there are a lot of options for you or your loved one’s treatment of care. Recovery from an eating disorder takes time, support, and patience; and it looks different on everyone. Eating disorders are not to be shrugged off or swept under the rug, as they can turn into a severely debilitating disease, causing further mental health issues or premature death. Everyone deserves the help they need.

If you are unsure whether you or a loved one needs treatment for an eating disorder, please contact us here for a free eating disorder assessment.


  Written by Madeleine White

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